What’s the most important trend in innovation that nobody is talking about?
We at Xconomy reached out across our national network of innovation leaders (the Xconomists) to get some answers to this question, and to spur some intercity discussion. What we got back was astounding for its diversity and depth. And while it’s no longer true that no one is talking about these trends, they are clearly issues that warrant more attention than they’re getting.
The Xconomists—who are a mix of entrepreneurs, executives, investors, and researchers—answered our innovation-trend question on several interesting levels:
Some chose to focus on high-level trends in areas such as global competitiveness, investing for the short or long term, and collaboration between startups and big companies. Some touched on the innovation process itself, bringing up issues of geography, communication, and psychology.
Others dove into specific fields of technology, life sciences, and energy. Their topics ranged from tech sectors like connected hardware to fracking to renewable chemicals and agriculture; from artificial intelligence and brain science to personal health portals; and from biomaterials and network science to vaccines for tropical diseases.
It’s not all good news. Several Xconomists lamented the short-term thinking and incrementalism of many of today’s entrepreneurs and investors; they sounded warning bells about the future impact on U.S. competitiveness and society in general. It remains to be seen whether the innovators will put their money where their mouth is—but, as leaders across our network, they are in a good position to do something about the problem, and urge future leaders to think bigger.
We hope you enjoy the 20-odd Xconomist perspectives (edited for length) in the slideshow above, and that it will lead to productive discussions—and actions—in your circles.
The Xconomy staff contributed reporting to this story.
Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Editor in Chief. E-mail him at gthuang [at] xconomy.com.